Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why I do what I do

While perusing news websites this morning, I found this disheartening article:

Adults don't believe teens are doing better

Basically, studies are showing that today's teens and young adults have developed better morals than preceding generations. Unfortunately, older adults refuse to believe this. The author points out that some adults base their beliefs on a single case where a teen has done something wrong. Others stake their claims in the stereotype of selfish, rebellious teens. This interaction (or anti-interaction, in my mind) is particularly devastating for the youth.

What is there to do when no one expects you to accomplish anything nor accepts that you are already doing good things?

Life gets pretty hard when no one believes in you, especially when you are in the midst of the age-old struggle to identify yourself. This is one of many reasons why I have chosen to study and write young adult literature. I believe in teens and young adults. They can be forces for good if we love and encourage them. My goal is to help them see their potential!

In the current literature, I have found this potential in a variety of stories. For example, I just (as in 10 minutes ago) finished reading an amazing YA book called The Monstrumologist.
It won the Printz Award last year, which is essentially THE award in YA literature. If you're familiar with book awards, it is the YA equivalent of the Newbery. Or if you're not familiar with book awards, it is the YA equivalent of Best Picture. At any rate, Monstrumologist is not for the faint of heart. A compelling combination of historical fiction, science fiction, and horror, Monstrumologist tells the story of young orphan Will Henry, who has been apprenticed to a doctor who studies and hunts monsters. Along the way, he explores the meaning of monster and other intriguing philosophical questions. There is plenty of gore and plenty of heart (in a good way): one of my favorite points in the book is when the doctor stops saying "your services are indispensable to me" and finally says "you are indispensable to me." Will learns what great things he can do (potential!), both on the grand, epic scale and on a smaller, intimate scale. I can't wait to read the sequels!

When I read YA books like this, I often re-learn that everyone has a purpose. Though we are definitely individuals, we are not alone. We are not useless. We each have gifts and talents that we can use to do some good in this world. But these are truths that are easy to forget, especially with our feeble human minds. Sometimes I think that the curse of mortality is forgetfulness. We need to be constantly reminded of the Truth. And that is why I do what I do.

Most of the time.

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